Brachial plexus root contusion

Case contributed by Dr Shu Su


45yo male motorbike accident. Right clavicle fracture and weakness in right upper limb.

Patient Data

Age: 46
Gender: Male

High resolution 3.0T MRI imaging of the right brachial plexus was performed. The roots, trunks, divisions cords of the right brachial plexus of are intact.  Multiple perineural cysts are seen but no evidence of pseudomeningocoeles. There is subtle increased T2 signal along the right C7 nerve root immediately lateral to the exit foramen, and to a lesser extent in the right C6 and C8 nerve roots which may represent contusion. However, nerve roots themselves appear intact.  Fractured right clavicle with adjacent edema within the supraclavicular region is noted.

Case Discussion

High-velocity traffic accidents are one of the most common causes of trauma to the brachial plexus. Trauma results in stretching, bruising or tearing of plexus components, post-traumatic meningocoeles, nerve retraction balls, and perineural fibrosis. MRI features of acute brachial plexus injury are described below 1,2

  • affected nerves appear hypointense on T1-weighted and hyperintense on T2-weighted imaging 
  • swelling, hemorrhage, compression, disruption, displacement and retraction of plexus components
  • nerve ruptures seen as discontinuity in the neural structures
  • nerve retraction balls on distal end of ruptured nerves
  • can have denervation edema in  muscles supplied by the affected nerves
  • in the subacute period, fat degeneration and muscular trophism alteration may occur
  • direct compression by of the brachial plexus may be visible by hematomas, pseudoaneurysm (especially of subclavian vessels), fracture fragment, callus

Case courtesy of A/Prof Pramit Phal.

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Case information

rID: 35341
Published: 27th Jul 2015
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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